Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan
The submission to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee in response to its inquiry into Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan was prepared by the Law Council of Australia.
The inquiry arises in the context of:
- the cessation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of the forces of NATO Allied forces,1 including Australian troops2 and U.S. forces on 31 August 2021;3
- the takeover of Afghanistan, including its capital Kabul, by the Taliban;4 and
- the resulting increase in people fleeing Afghanistan and seeking asylum.5
These events have resulted in a humanitarian crisis within Afghanistan, a significant internal displacement of Afghans, and reports of violence directed at Hazara Afghans. It has also produced a significant influx of Afghan asylum seekers to neighbouring countries and tens of thousands of humanitarian visa applications made to the Minister for Home Affairs.
The Law Council’s submission addresses terms (c)(iv) and (d) of the terms of reference for the inquiry6 and focusses on Australia’s obligations and actions now, rather than past events such as Australia’s military engagement in the first place and its planning for withdrawal.
1 NATO, Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, accessed on 7 September 2021.
2 Hon Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia, ‘Australian Troops to Drawdown in Afghanistan’, (Media Release, 15 April 2021).
3 Joe Biden brings forward deadline for US military withdrawal from Afghanistan to August 31, ABC News Australia, (online, 9 July 2021).
4 Ben Doherty, Warren Murray and agencies, Afghanistan: reports emerge of Taliban beating Afghans seeking to flee Kabul, The Guardian Australia, (online, 18 August 2021).
5 UNHCR, ‘The Refugee Brief – 3 September 2021’.
(c) how the Australian Government should respond to recent developments in Afghanistan in order to:
… (iv) protect Australian citizens, visa holders, and Afghan nationals who supported Australian forces, where they remain in Afghanistan; and
(d) any related matters.